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  • The other day I was considering the question "What was the best "soap" ever?" This relatively little-known Aussie series must rank highly on my personal list of favourites and probably (just) comes out top. The reason lies mainly with the ability of the series to come up with one cliff-hanging episode after another, and for such a long period. (Dallas, at it's best, also had this quality). The effect of this in my case was to cause me to think about the programme between episodes and to look forward with eager anticipation to the next. The plots and twists have sometimes been described as "unbelievable", but then, why should entertainment be believable? Charles Dickens, for example, had deliciously unbelievable coincidences in his novels to entertain and thrill his readers. "Sons and Daughters" was full of these moments and one moment in particular - a scene in a prison cell - included THE most shocking, unexpected and thrilling twist I've ever seen in any film or TV programme ever. Fantastic!!!

  • It seems like every Australian actor or actress has been in this series, passing through on their way from The Young Doctors (Another long running Aussie soap). Although decidedly camp in places, it was highly watchable when shown in England during the mid '80s, and I couldn't believe that actors could portray such ceaselessly vindictive characters like Patricia Morrell. Her married truck driving 'lover' David Palmer, would always say something stereotypically Australian like 'Cobber', or 'Grab us a couple o' tinnies.' while holding his stomach inside a pair of tight jeans. And Patricia's son Wayne, played with an over the top performance by Ian Rawlings, kept up the pace nicely

  • Warning: Spoilers
    Well.....where to start with this little overview of the deliciously kitsch Australian camp classic 'Sons & Daughters'? Hmm... my interest in the show started when the UK's broadcaster 'Five' picked up the show and decided to repeat it on daytime afternoons, moving it to weekend early mornings after a few months. I'd seen the show before on ITV, but I was too young then to appreciate how it was kitsch, crap TV at it's best.

    I suppose the first thing is to have a little look at some of the characters (*there may be spoilers ahead*). The show revolved around two families, one wealthy in Sydney (the Hamiltons) and one working class in Melbourne (the Palmers) and the various people they were acquainted with over the course of the show's run. The two families were initially connected by Gordon Hamilton's first(?) wife - Patricia, having an affair with David Palmer 20 years ago that resulted in the birth of twins... each took one child and raised them in their own families. After a year or so of plodding along with standard soap opera plots of the time, the show suddenly decided to turn into a copy of the American 'supersoaps' which were popular at the time. Suddenly it focused more on the power struggles with the Hamilton family and their business partners over 'The Company' (it was never actually revealed what business 'The Company' was in).

    Then in 1984, the show's most popular character, Patricia Hamilton aka Pat the Rat(Rowena Wallace) decided to leave, after divorcing Gordon. Rather than allow this to damage the show, the producers decided to replace Rowena Wallace with two characters, Belinda Giblin as Alison Carr and soap sex siren Abigail as Caroline Morrell (another partner in 'The Company') - and got round this by letting the audience know that Belinda's character, Alison Carr, was in fact Pat the Rat - who'd been off to South America for some extensive cosmetic surgery. By the time she arrived back, Gordon had remarried (and not for the last time, either) to Barbara Armstrong. It was at this point the show kicked into some uber-inspired and totally unbelievable lunacy. Alison let her friend, socialite Charlie Bartlett know who she really was, and moved in with her, and proceeded to get her hands on 50% of 'The Company' and onto Gordon Hamilton again.

    Despite Gordon being one of the least charismatic men you're ever likely to lay eyes on (I think he was played that way intentionally) he ended up getting married (AGAIN!) to Beryl Palmer - the then ex-wife of his first wife's lover. Again, lunacy reigned in the 'Sons and Daughters' camp, with Alison Carr's actions getting ever more bitchy and outrageous. But the show was beginning to flag under the weight of it's own preposterousness, so the producers decided again to ramp up the level of unbelievability, by bringing Rowena Wallace back as her former character's long-lost twin sister. Unfortunately the writing was on the wall for the show by 1986, and in 1987, it was cancelled.

    There were other background characters, occasionally thrust into limelight every now and then... the most notable of those being Fiona Thompson, a former madame connected to both the Hamilton's and the Palmers, and always crusading for some good cause or other.

    The best things about the show were the totally preposterous story lines, the occasionally appalling acting, and the wonky production values (brown and grey seemed to be very popular interior colour choices in Australia in the early 80's) - for example, the Hamilton's lived in what appeared to be a large mansion, but all we ever saw of it was the fairly small hallway and living room.... again decorated in lovely shades of grey and brown.

    We've become used to production values in Australian and American soaps lagging badly behind their UK counterparts - but 'Sons and Daughters' really did take the cake.. they had one apartment set, and any character who lived in an apartment, lived in that set, suitably repainted. I dare say the production values were below even ITV's 'Crossroads'.. and that was a show that took some beating for sheer shoddiness of production.
  • In our house we nicknamed this "the trash" because it was such a transparently unrealistic soap, but we still videoed it every night. A lot of the characters appear in more recent stuff, especially Peter Phelps aka John who as in Stingers Undercover, Water Rats and Ned Kelly. Frankly the idea of John and Angela being twins was implausible to begin with - they didn't look the slightest bit alike. The show had some all time classic villains though - obviously Pat the rat but also Wayne. One thing that also sticks in my mind is that everyone in the Hamilton house appears to be raving alcoholics - there was hardly a scene where they weren't drinking whiskey. Wouldlike to see a rerun one day just for old times sake, but they don't seem to show it anymore.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I loved this series when I watched it back in the early 80s. The whole forbidden relationship thing was intriguing and it took ages to be revealed to everybody involved. Once that was out in the open, the series lost its credibility as they tried to outdo themselves every episode with weirder story lines. I loved the evil Patricia but bringing her back as another character was a bit contrived.

    At the time the whole idea of an Australian drama was fairly new and it was interesting to see different parts of that country portrayed. Angela Hamiliton was one of my favourite characters and she has popped up recently in All Saints as Frank's love interest.
  • Oh it's those memories, we cherish in our pubelescent years. Such is the case of another addictive Aussie soap, we love so much and eat up. Like Prisoner, eventually the stories here, lost much potence and importance. Happening to watch this the other morning, Sunday Morning, 4 a.m - 5 a.m, back to back, I am up near the show's last year (remember the names Craig and Debbie, young star crossed lovers) , well that's where I am. I do like the later blood of actors in this show, where I do miss the splendid performance of Ms Wallace (Pat the Wallace) where you couldn't believe this great actress was homeless once. And the other, well not much a standout, but one of the better players, is of course, Rawlings as the scheming Wayne, plus the delectable Kemp, as the lovable Charlie, who really won't come down to planet earth. Yes addictive and bad, if you watch now, corny, yeah, but addictive viewing of a bad show or movie is a good combination, and one I like, but I really gotta be honest, and lay my cards on the table. With the title now, as referred to this much later part of series, how much reference does the title have tothe characters? Ask yourself that.
  • This show was 'semi believable' at the start. But the story lines became so outrageous that it was an insult to even the chronic soapie viewer! At least some actors used their money wisely from this series - good on you Judy Nunn!

    Bryan Wiseman - the Actor